Shane Larkin is the Most Dangerous Player in Europe

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ISTANBUL, TURKEY - NOVEMBER 29: Shane Larkin (0) of Anadolu Efes celebrates after the Turkish Airlines Euroleague match between Anadolu Efes and Bayern Munich, in Istanbul, Turkey on November 29, 2019. Shane Larkin broke the EuroLeague scoring record. (Photo by Onur Coban/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

Anadolu Efes is on top of the standings in EuroLeague after Round 12, having won 10 games. Last year’s runner-up has one of the best offenses in the competition and the most dangerous player in Europe in Shane Larkin.

The Most Dangerous Player in Europe is Shane Larkin

The Rise of Anadolu Efes

A person who just started to watch EuroLeague would never believe this: Anadolu Efes finished the 2017-18 EuroLeague season in the last place. That’s only two seasons ago. It took less than two years for current coach Ergin Ataman to erase years of misfortune and mismanagement. When Ataman took charge in December 2017, Efes was 3-9 in EuroLeague, taking up the next to the last place. That season ended with seven wins for Turkish outfit. Another disastrous year was behind them and the future, just like the past didn’t seem bright.

However, the next season was so good that it went down in history. They notched their first Final Four appearance since 2001 after five unsuccessful playoffs series, followed by their first-ever championship game. The season left Efes fans and EuroLeague enthusiasts with buoyancy. While Ataman was at the helm, the main man making all these happen on the court was Shane Larkin.

Coming back from the NBA after the 2017-18 campaign with the Boston Celtics, he found himself back in the EuroLeague in February. He averaged 19.6 points per game on 3.6 made threes in all five games of the playoffs against Barcelona. In the Final Four, he scored 59 points in two games, including an excellent showing against Fenerbahce in the semifinals game. And this season, he is on fire.

Shane Larkin is Above the Competition

He leads the EuroLeague in points (22.2) and Player Index Rating (25.2) per game. He shoots 53.5 percent from beyond the three-point line, the highest percentage among the players who have shot at least four threes per game. Per EuroLeague official statistics, only Nando De Colo (61.2 percent) has a better true shooting percentage among guards. And Larkin (59.7 percent) has played in three more games and shot 141 more shots.

With 5.1 fouls drawn per game, he is one of the three most fouled players in the entire competition per contest. He produces 1.36 points per shot, according to Basketguru, and this number is higher than what all eight other players with 15 or higher points per game have produced. The list includes high-profile names like De Colo (1.33), Nikola Mirotic (1.13), Tornike Shengelia (1.22), Sergio Rodriguez (1.07), Alexey Shved (0.87). His heat map, also by Basketguru, tells the story.

From every zone of the three-point territory, Larkin has made more than 50 percent of his shots. Plus, according to the data obtained by Advanced Pro Basketball, he attempts 8.5 contested shots per game and makes 4.6 of them. The only guard making more contested shots per game is, you may guess him correctly, De Colo with 4.8. This is incredible by EuroLeague standards.

At around six feet, he makes himself look like a giant on the court. It may now be clear that Larkin and De Colo are the two best players in the greatest club competition in Europe. But Larkin has an attribute even De Colo does not have: explosiveness. His acceleration and lateral or horizontal quickness are unmatched. In a game where speed is, by all means, more important than ever, being a speedster and having one on a team unveils a sense of danger for the defenses.

Not by Himself 

The danger shows itself when Larkin is playing off-the-ball. The defender assigned to Larkin has to watch out for his cuts to the rim or perimeter, his catch-and-shoot type of threes using a screen. When a team possesses a player always one or two steps ahead of everyone else on the court, the offense naturally becomes much easier. Of course, you need quality players able to take advantage of it. And Efes has the right players.

The playmaking quartet of Larkin, Vasilije Micic, Krunoslav Simon, and Rodrigue Beaubois are working wonders for Efes, especially this season. Having four playmakers presents Efes limitless options on the offensive end and makes none of the players too exposed to the attention of the defenses. This is important, especially for Larkin. He sometimes has the luxury to only jog up and down the court, mostly with Micic taking the reins. He can regenerate himself through these moments, whereas he’s still playing. Micic being excellent at scoring and looking out for others also helps Efes go to the top of the EuroLeague after Round 12.

All the people interested in EuroLeague basketball are talking about the guy who broke the all-time EuroLeague scoring record in a game with 49. They are talking about the guy whose ten threes in the same night tied the all-time EuroLeague record for most threes in a game; the guy who has scored more than 20 points in five of his last seven EuroLeague games; the guy who is the most dangerous player in Europe. He is fun to watch and he is far from being done.

Note: All stats are as of December 11, 2019

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